Public Perceptions of Worldwide Malaria and TB Risks Haven't Risen

by Patricia Guadalupe and Lydia Saad

HIV, cancer, and poor nutrition trigger much more concern as global health problems

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The honeymooning Georgia lawyer who traveled to Europe and back with a particularly virulent strain of tuberculosis made headlines in the United States during the last month, but Americans appear to have viewed the episode as a human interest story, not a health scare. The Centers for Disease Control categorizes tuberculosis as among the world's leading causes of death and disease, but most Americans don't consider tuberculosis a very serious problem around the world.

In a recent Gallup Poll, many more respondents say HIV/AIDS (82%) and cancer (79%) are very serious global health problems. Nearly as many rate poor nutrition this seriously (75%). At the bottom of the list, tuberculosis ties with malaria for fourth out of the five diseases rated, with only 24% of Americans rating either one as "very serious."

Interestingly, about 2 in 10 (23%) rate tuberculosis as "not serious," and more people consider it "somewhat serious" than they do "very serious."

For each of the following health conditions, please say whether you think it is a very serious problem around the world, a somewhat serious problem, or not a serious problem?

 

2007 Jun 11-14

Very
serious

Somewhat
serious

Not
serious

 

%

%

%

HIV or AIDS

82

16

2

Cancer

79

20

1

Poor nutrition

75

22

3

Tuberculosis

24

51

23

Malaria

24

50

22

The heightened visibility of tuberculosis in the U.S. of late has not triggered public alarm about the prevalence of TB worldwide. In fact, fewer Americans this year than last December (24% vs. 31%) think tuberculosis is a "very serious" problem worldwide.

The new survey, conducted June 11-14, 2007 finds similar reactions to the seriousness of malaria as to TB. This is despite the fact that malaria is contracted by 300-500 million people around the world annually and kills over one million in sub-Saharan Africa alone each year.

President Bush recently designated April 25 as Malaria Awareness Day to highlight what the White House says is the U.S. commitment to eradicating malaria worldwide. But -- as with tuberculosis -- most Americans don't consider it a "very serious" or even "somewhat serious" health concern, an opinion that hasn't changed from last year. The hit FOX television show American Idol showcased the malaria problem as part of a two-day fundraising telethon in which they raised over $70 million for non-profit organizations, one of which was Malaria No More. Yet, despite this attention, the percentage considering malaria a significant problem is essentially unchanged since last year.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 518 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted June 11-14, 2007. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

38. For each of the following health conditions, please say whether you think it is a very serious problem around the world, a somewhat serious problem, or not a serious problem? How about – [RANDOM ORDER]?

BASED ON 518 NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A

 

2007 Jun 11-14
(sorted by "very serious")

Very
serious

Somewhat
serious

Not
serious

 

%

%

%

HIV or AIDS

82

16

2

Cancer

79

20

1

Poor nutrition

75

22

3

Tuberculosis

24

51

23

Malaria

24

50

22

Full Results and Trends

A. HIV or AIDS

 

 

Very
serious

Somewhat serious

Not
serious

No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

2007 Jun 11-14

82

16

2

*

         

2006 Dec 8-10

89

10

1

*

* = Less than 0.5%

B. Cancer

 

 

Very
serious

Somewhat serious

Not
serious

No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

2007 Jun 11-14

79

20

1

1

         

2006 Dec 8-10

87

11

1

--

C. Tuberculosis

 

 

Very
serious

Somewhat serious

Not
serious

No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

2007 Jun 11-14

24

51

23

2

         

2006 Dec 8-10

31

48

17

3

D. Malaria

 

 

Very
serious

Somewhat serious

Not
serious

No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

2007 Jun 11-14

24

50

22

3

         

2006 Dec 8-10

28

47

20

4

E. Poor nutrition

 

 

Very
serious

Somewhat serious

Not
serious

No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

2007 Jun 11-14

75

22

3

1

         

2006 Dec 8-10

80

18

1

1

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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/27979/Public-Perceptions-Worldwide-Malaria-Risks-Havent-Risen.aspx
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